As previously reported, six of NCHBA’s top legislative priorities passed the crossover deadline in May keeping them eligible for further consideration by the other body during this session. Five of those six bills were considered in committee this week due to the likelihood that consideration of substantive legislation other than the budget is coming to a close. Consequently, your legislative team worked long hours to lobby committee members to pass these bills.
One of this year’s top legislative priorities took a giant step forward on Thursday in the House Regulatory Reform Committee. SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes) sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake), cleared the committee after a unanimous vote. The bill helps level the playing field between landowners and local governments by, among other things:
- Integrating permit choice and vesting laws to ensure that the rules are not changed in the middle of a development project.
- Protecting landowners against 3rd party rezoning efforts
- Allowing certain claims to bypass the Board of Adjustment and proceed to Superior Court.
- Placing limits on conditional zoning abuse, while preserving flexibility for developers.
- Provisions of SB 422 (Planning/Development Changes) which combine and modernize existing city and county planning and zoning chapters as developed by the NC Bar Association.
NCHBA has pursued legislation containing many of the same provisions during the previous two sessions. While these previous bills have passed the House by wide margins, they failed to get across the finish line in the Senate. This year, your legislative team made the decision to pursue the bill in the Senate first and an outstanding team of sponsors was recruited in Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake). This strategy proved successful and the bill passed the Senate last month with a strong bi-partisan vote of 39-9.
After the bill was received by the House, NCHBA convened a broad stakeholder’s group which included the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners, the city attorney for Raleigh, and other local government and development advocates. After holding an initial meeting to identify issues of concern, NCHBA General Counsel Mike Carpenter and the League. Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia worked diligently with the other stakeholder leaders to craft a compromise bill. This compromise led to the local government advocates not opposing the bill. In turn, this agreement led to the unanimous committee vote and should pave the way for swift passage by the full House.
Leading our efforts on the House floor will be the sponsors of the House companion bill — Representatives Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). The bill will then return to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the changes made in the House. It will then be presented to Governor Cooper and, in light of the agreement of the parties, we would expect the governor to sign the bill into law.
Another of NCHBA’s top session priorities, SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) was unanimously approved by the House Finance Committee on Wednesday morning and will now make one last stop in the House Rules Committee before a full House floor vote. Primary sponsors of this bill are Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Don Davis (D-Greene). When the bill gets to the House floor, sponsors of the House companion bill, Representatives Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Mark Brody (R-Union), Julia Howard (R-Davie) and Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford) will make sure it gets a big vote.
As previously discussed, the bill would require at least one qualifier of a building, residential or unclassified licensee to obtain 8 hours of instruction annually as a requirement for license renewal.
This bill has been scheduled to be heard in the House Rules Committee on Monday and may be included on Tuesday’s House calendar. Upon passage, this bill will go directly to the Governor who is expected to sign it into law. If so, the continuing education requirement will take effect in 2020. Starting in 2021, all 8 hours can be satisfied by taking approved courses online.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee approved another of our key priorities HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). Among the important provisions in this year’s bill are: prohibiting developers from having to bury power lines outside of a subdivision, eliminating minimum square footage requirements for homes and expediting the local plan review process.
The Senate Finance Chairs have indicated that this bill could be heard in their committee early next week, before heading to the Senate Rules Committee and finally the Senate floor. Since this legislation has been modified, it will have to go back to the House for a concurrence vote.
Another one of our legislative priorities also cleared the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Thursday by a unanimous vote. SB 313 (Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing), sponsored by Senators Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Mike Woodard (D-Durham), makes several refinements in our successful 2015 effort to reform the performance guarantee process. Prior to this year’s session, NCHBA was able to work out these refinements with the NC League of Municipalities to make it a consensus bill.
This bill has one additional stop in the House Rules Committee before reaching the House floor.
HB 268 (Amend On-Site Wastewater Laws), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union) and Michael Wray (D-Northampton), passed out of the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. The bill disallows several newly enacted rules that would have had a negative impact on homes built with septic systems. The bill creates a task force that will craft new rule recommendations that will both suit builders and protect the environment. The legislation provides NCHBA with a seat on this task force which is to report its findings to the Department of Health and Human Services by October 31, 2019.
Finally, we would like to recognize Representative David Lewis (R-Harnett) as our“NCHBA Legislator of the Week”. Representative Lewis is the Chairman of the powerful House Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee which controls the assignment of bills and the flow of legislation in the House chamber. He is currently serving in his 9th term in the House and has been a strong supporter of NCHBA’s legislative agenda throughout his career. We work closely with Rep. Lewis on scheduling of our bills and other legislative matters. We thank Representative Lewis for his dedicated service!
Legislator of the Week
Representative David Lewis (R-Harnett)
Representative David Lewis is a strong supporter of NCHBA’s pro-housing agenda. We thank Representative Lewis for his leadership in helping NCHBA keep the dream of home ownership attainable for North Carolina families.